Friday, February 22, 2013

Part 1: Hear Great Jazz on a Budget at 6 Clubs in NYC

(photo: Evi Abeler)
By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
Baby, when it’s cold outside, jazz will warm you up. And, when it’s too darn hot, jazz will cool you down. New York’s known for its big jazz clubs—the Blue Note, the VillageVanguard, and Birdland. But, you can hear great jazz in several smaller, more affordable venues and even for free in some places.


Small's Jazz Club
183 West 10th St.; Tel: 212/252-5091;
Open: Daily, 7:30pm-4am; Cost: Free jam, 4pm-7pm, 1 drink minimum; 7:30pm-12:30am, $20 cover; 1am-4am, $10
Small’s is indeed a small, low-key venue that’s especially popular with jazz musicians themselves. After playing their own gigs, they come here to groove to the sounds of their compatriots and, occasionally, even to sit in on sets. There’s drinks, but no food.
Mezzrow (163 West 10th St., Small's also runs Mezzrow, a nice jazz piano lounge, right down the block. You can get into both clubs for one cover price.

55 Bar
55 Christopher St., btw 6th & 7th Ave.; Tel: 212/929-9883;
Open: Nightly Sets, Mon-Thurs, 7pm & 10pm; Fri-Sat, 6pm & 10pm; Sun, 7pm & 9:30pm Cost: Early Set, no cover; Late Set, $5-$15 cover & 2 drink minimum
This laid-back Village bar has good jazz and friendly patrons. No food’s served, but you can BYOF or order in from takeout menus they’ll provide.
Zinc Bar
82 West 3rd St., btw Thompson & Sullivan; Tel: 212/477-9462;
Open: Nightly, 6pm-3am; Weekend Sets: 7pm, 9pm, 10:30pm & 12am; Weeknight Sets: times vary; Cost: $10-$15 (1 or 2 drink minimum)
This very nice space puts a spotlight on Brazilian, Caribbean, and Afro-Cuban jazz. There’s a pleasant bar area, where the cover is less, or sit at tables closer to the action.
The Jazz Gallery
SFJAZZ Collective (photo: GA-Photos)
1160 Broadway, at 27th St., 5th fl; Tel: 212-242-1063;
Open: Thurs-Sat; Sets: 9pm & 10:30pm; Cost: Fri-Sat, $20; Thurs, $10-$15*
This is the place for serious jazz aficionados. No food or drinks are served, just pure listening pleasure. The Jazz Gallery just moved into this new space in the hip & happening Flatiron/NoMad district, after 17 years downtown. (*Become a member for even cheaper tickets and special deals.)
Showman’s Jazz Club
375 West 125th St., bet Morningside & St. Nicholas Ave; Tel: 212/864-8941;
Sets: Mon–Thurs: 8:30pm, 10pm, 11:30pm; Fri-Sat: 9:30pm, 11pm & 1am; Cost: No cover, 2 drink minimum per set

Smalls, jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel
For an authentic jazz experience in Harlem, come to this wonderful neighborhood hangout. Opened since 1942, Showman’s has played host to many legendary jazz artists from Sarah Vaughan to Lionel Hampton and Ruth Brown. The good vibes, the great sounds, and the welcoming ambience live on.
(Closed due to COVID.)
To find out what’s happening on the jazz scene in New York City on a regular basis, check out: HotHouse Jazz & The New York City Jazz Record. But, jazz clubs are not the only place to hear great music. Discover several unique venues to enjoy jazz on a budget in Part II.

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